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Posted at 6:07 PM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Eight pulled from Potomac in water rescue

By Washington Post editors

This post has been updated.

D.C. Fire department officials said about 20 high school students were in two sculls or skiffs Wednesday afternoon that capsized on the Potomac River, but none were seriously injured.

The students, from McLean High School, were rowing from Thompson's boat house about 4:30 p.m. The river was rough, there were strong winds and the water temperature was 41 degrees when their two small crafts overturned near Hains Point and Washington Channel, said fire department spokesman Pete Piringer.

Most of the students swam to shore, but rescuers pulled eight or nine teenagers from the water who had been in the Potomac about 15 minutes, Piringer said.

EMS personnel evaluated 20 or 21 teens, and took them to hospitals for check-ups, Piringer said.

5:17 p.m.
Eight people were pulled from the Potomac River Wednesday by D.C. Fire department rescue boats after their small craft capsized in the river, officials said.

At least three rescue boats responded to the river, just south of the 14th Street bridge near Hains Point, about 4:30 p.m. for a report of people in the water, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman. Rescuers quickly pulled eight people from the water after their skiff or sculling craft overturned, Piringer said.

All eight people appeared to be uninjured, but were being evaluated by EMS personnel at Hains Point, he said.

4:48 p.m.
Eight people have been taken from the Potomac River near Hains Point during a water rescue, D.C. Fire and EMS report.

They are being evaluated.

Water rescue underway in the Potomac
4:33 p.m.
D.C. Fire and EMS is reporting a water rescue in the Potomac south of the 14th Street bridge. Boaters are said to be in distress, possibly in the water.

Stay with for more details.

By Washington Post editors  | March 2, 2011; 6:07 PM ET
Categories:  DC  
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Catching a crab in a rowing shell is another kind of crabbing.

Posted by: polecatx1 | March 2, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

What in the World are these kids doing on the water in those conditions? Anyone have pictures of them? I want to see what stupid looks like.

Posted by: charlietuna6661 | March 2, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

The kids only did what the coach told them to do. Get his/her picture. Get it fast before the McLean parents get ahold of him.

You don't move to McLean to expose your children to this.

Posted by: bschaper | March 2, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

The Potomac is a challenging place to row and this is not an uncommon occurrence. It sounds like the coach and rowers did the right thing staying with their shell. If you only waited for flat calm water no one would ever row on the Potomac. Not that you should take unnecessary risks, but the weather today was within reason.

Posted by: AlligatorArms | March 2, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I would agree with AlligatorArms that the Potomac can be a challenging place to row... but this is not a common occurrence in any stretch of the imagination. Rowing programs in the area have a very good record over the years of keeping athletes safe. There have been a few accidents, but certainly not a regular occurrence. If the coach(es) had been doing their job they would not have sent the crews out on a day like today. Winds and the wide open spaces of the Haines Point area are a recipe for unrowable and dangerous water for rowing. This was simply bad judgement. A mistake perhaps, but one that could have been very costly. Glad it turned out for the best.

Posted by: JorgeGortex | March 2, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I rowed for McLean crew awhile back (02-06), and we had the exact same thing happen to us. It's not as big as a deal as it sounds, all the kids have to pass swim tests before they can go out on the water, and there's always a coach nearby in a skiff with life jackets. But AlligatorArms is right, if you waited for flat water, no one would ever practice.

Posted by: jburleson | March 3, 2011 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Fortunately for the students, reports of this incident were wildly exaggerated in this blog. Although a boat was swamped, no one fell in the water and no one swam to shore. Both boats were accompanied by safety launches driven by coaches. The students in the swamped boat were exposed to cold water (in the boat, not the river) for 5 minutes, not 15. Sorry to disappoint the media hysterics.

Posted by: cghoward | March 3, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

All in a days work. Don't fret.

Posted by: VAALEX | March 3, 2011 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I was one of the rowers. The weather was fine when we launched but a few minutes after we turned around near reagan the weather got worse suddenly and the waves started getting bigger. The eight I was in got swamped and we had to get out. After we got out the boat rolled over and we were in the water for about 5 minutes before our coach pulled us out. The other eight got swamped as well but did not roll over. It wasn't the coaches fault. The news has made this a much bigger deal than it really was.

Posted by: kristopherhobbs | March 5, 2011 10:24 PM | Report abuse

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